This year, Morgan and I decided that Patch would have behaviour training. It’s something we’ve wanted to do for quite a while and since lots of you over on Twitter liked the idea of me documenting his journey, here is the post discussing his first session.
Why Behaviour Training?
I mentioned in this blog post that Patch has a few issues when it comes to interacting with other dogs. Because of his previous upbringing before he came to us, he’s not used to being on a lead, so when he sees other dogs he gets frustrated that he can’t go over and play with them. Which means he barks, pulls and looks rather aggressive around people when it happens. Everything came to a head when I took him to the local Christmas swim on Christmas Day, where he was surrounded by dogs and made a massive scene which was incredibly embarrassing for me to deal with. It was after this point that I went to Morgan and demanded we get him trained in the new year. So here we are.
Who Did We Go With?
Over the course of a few weeks I did research into lots of local people who offered this service and we eventually went with the South Wales Dog Training Academy. It was only £40 per session and Saskia was very highly recommended. I emailed her with our query and she managed to get back straight away. We booked an appointment and we were both very excited to see what she’d say about our little pup.
How Did It Go?
Patch was very excited to see Saskia when she walked in especially when he could smell another dog on her. We sat down with Saskia and went through what we wanted to tackle with Patch and she brought up valid points that will help us in Patch’s journey…
- He’s overweight. I will admit, both me and Morgan were quite shocked to hear Saskia say that he was overweight but when we looked at him closely, it was very obvious that he’s got some extra pounds on him. This is both mine and Morgan’s fault as we leave his food out during the day and the fact he only goes out twice a day has taken its toll on him. So, we’ll be working to reduce his portions and making sure he gets nice and slim.
- He needs a physiotherapy session. Now, we already knew that he’s got a dodgy back leg since the vet told us his leg has luxating patella, which is where the kneecap dislocates once in a while. Saskia said that his posture was quite poor when he sits down and we’ve been noticing that he’s not putting as much pressure on his bad leg as normal. So, a physio session has been booked for two weeks time and we’ll see what they say.
- We need to reclaim food. Because we’d previously left food down for him at all times, Patch didn’t see food as an exciting thing about his day. So, as part of our plan to help him slim down and get him to focus on us more, we’ve been putting his food out twice a day and using treats out on walks to get him to stop being so reactive. If Patch comes across a dog and doesn’t bark at it, we reward him with a treat and overtime, he will eventually learn to be fine on the lead. At least that’s what we’re hoping anyway!
- The anti-pulling harness has got to go. We were first recommended an anti-pulling harness by our vet because he is very very difficult to walk on the lead because he pulls so much. The harness has allowed us to have a good walk since it wraps around his snout however Saskia mentioned that it could be very dangerous for him if he moves suddenly due to it being clipped at the throat. She’s recommended that we get a chest harness to stop him from pulling instead since it will be a bit kinder on him.
- We need to be aware of signs of stress. Saskia taught us signs of stress in dogs and it made us realise that Patch pretty much does the signs all the time. A simple pant, a yawn, a shake, a lick of the lips, all the things that we thought were normal tell us a lot more about his personality.
As part of the training session, Saskia brought her gorgeous beagle puppy to see exactly what Patch is like around another dog. As predicted, he was going barmy at the thought of seeing a dog he couldn’t reach on the lead. We took him over to the field and worked out what distance was safe enough for him to not react to the dog and that he would be able to listen to us. When that was done, we were able to distract and reward his good behaviour with treats and that forms the basis of how we’re going to work.
Saskia is going to come back to us in a month’s time to see how we’ve gotten on and hopefully by then, he’ll be a bit slimmer, a bit better and have had his physio session to see if there’s any underlying problems with his posture.
Overall, I found our session incredibly insightful – I’m not a dog owner by nature so knowing some useful information about how they work is great for me. Saskia was super lovely and very helpful with Patch. It gives me hope that Patch’s behaviour can be controlled and I’m confident that we will have a happy, healthy pup in no time!
Have you considered behavioural training for your dog?